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Marvel Universe
by yo go re

Move over, '80s nostalgia - here come the '90s!

As a teenage boy Chris Powell discovered an amulet that transferred his consciousness into the armored body of Darkhawk. Granted enhanced strength, flight and powerful energy blasts, Chris devoted his new abilities to the fight against evil. Though he is not invulnerable, any damage he suffers as Darkhawk is easily repaired in the transition back to his human form.

Darkhawk was created in 1991, and debuted in the first issue of his own series. Think about how rare that is: most "new" books are spin-offs, updates of legacy characters or expansions of existing lines. Three months ago, DC launched 52 new comics - how many of those were new characters? Zero. Fully none of them were new creations. This was supposed to be their major new start, and yet not a single original idea was introduced. So Darkhawk never being seen anywhere before the cover of his own comic? That's crazy!

The figure is built on one of the earliest bodies Hasbro developed for the Marvel Universe line: Black Spider-Man. On the plus side, using such a mundane body has allowed them to spend most of the budget creating new costume pieces! Darkhawk has had four main designs over the years, and this one seems to be an amalgam of #1 and #3 (which were already pretty close to each other to begin with). He has silver bracers on both arms, a silver belt, and a piece that combines his shoulder pads and angular collar. The collar cheats down a bit lower than it does in the art, so the medallion that gives Chris his powers can be attached to that rather than having to be glued on separately.

The head is new, as well. The original design was fairly squared off, with distinct angles as it turned about the head, rather than smooth lines. This version, with a more rounded, organic look, is a modern take. The crest on his brow stays close to the head, rather than sticking out like a brim, and the "mouthplate" sticks out, rather than being smooth, as the original design was.

Darkhawk is molded from black plastic, then painted with a metallic blue. Since this body is technically a robot, the polished sheen works well. Under strong lighting you can easily tell where the paint has been applied and where the dark black basecoat was left to show through, but under normal conditions it just looks like shadows and highlights, which is what you want, after all. When the character first appeared, his amulet and eye slit were purple, but these days they're red, and that's what the figure gives us.

No new articulation has been added to this old body, so he has swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, balljointed hips, swivel wrists, hinged elbows, a balljointed torso, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders and a balljointed neck. The bracers aren't glued on, so they can be turned around on the arms if you want. Since the character had retractable glider wings, the toy has a removable pair: they're designed specifically for Darkhawk, and plug into the bracers. The upper edge is even scalloped to fit perfectly against the figure's arms. They pop in and out easily, allowing you to display him however you want.

One of the original features of Darkhawk's costume was a grappling hook on the right arm. It was designed like a claw and could be fired out on a cable. It was dropped in later versions, but the toy has it molded as part of the right bracer. The body of each claw is sculpted with ringed bands, while the tip is smooth. Since it can't shoot across the room on the toy, it ends up looking like Wolverine's claws.

There's some confusion over whether or not there's a variant of Darkhawk available. Hasbro said there would be, but never provided any more info. The figure hit shelves a few weeks ago, and no variants were spotted. No stolen samples were listed on eBay, either. When asked about it at New York Comic Con, Hasbro said there was no variant - but the next day their MU display featured a Darkhawk with a different paintscheme, more like his current look in the books. So what's the story?! Is it a real variant or not? Either way, this release is the better version.

We've been waiting a long time for a Darkhawk figure. He never got representation in any of ToyBiz's '90s lines, and though he was planned for Marvel Legends, he never made it past the concept stage. There's never been a Darkhawk Minimate or anything else. He's a popular character getting a toy for the first time, so naturally he's incredibly hard to find and selling the fastest of his entire wave. Get him if you see him, because you might not see him again.

-- 11/07/11

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